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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Nicholas Hughes

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Dates:  1963 -
Born:  UK, Liverpool
Active:  UK
Contemporary British photographer. 
Artist statement: 
My work seemingly dependent upon a transient lifestyle, alludes to universal Romantic themes allied to an environmental sensibility.
Examination is given to the space between the world that people inhabit and that which nature still claims as its own. In particular the 'Edge’ and 'In Darkness Visible’ series seek to re-explore the human sense of wonderment before nature. Each seeks to illustrate the frail residue of the contemporary wilderness through reduced visions of the sublime within localised nature.
Through the production of my latest series 'In Darkness Visible’ in which I have selected the subject matter of trees and seascapes, has come a synthesis between reality and abstraction distilled through darkness. Contemplation is brought to bear upon mournful sensory visions of restored primordial beauty.
The intention is to focus the observer’s attention on the essence of the image and to avoid distracting it with negative concerns. It is hoped that the delicate nature of my portrayal serves as a metaphor for the fragility of our relationship with the natural world.
Verse I
In reaction to media led sensory anaesthetisation, and worn by the inadequacy of late political rhetoric, I have constructed a forest built from accumulated memory and the ghosts of trees. Having spent a period of two winters’ visiting public spaces in central London, this work inverts decorative Arcadian layout in an attempt to restore a sense of the natural in the cultivated, somewhat synthetic city 'wilderness’.
Verse II
Turner was moved by what he called “The weather in our souls”. He could see the universe in a rainstorm. My study of ocean currents found added gravitas through the weight of childhood familiarity. This search for emblematic last points of light within ensuing darkness involved long periods of contemplation on the complexities of nature from a familiar vantage point, finding company in the words of Thoreau during his retreat to the American wilderness of Walden:
All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle, which is taking place every instant.
Edge Verses I and II 2002–2006
Retreat into contemplation away from the urban noise of contemporary living offers the opportunity to immerse oneself in reduced visualisations of the sublime.
Standing at the edge, my attempts to take communion with the Romantic figure of Caspar David Friedrich’s monk, are tinged by the desire to raise the alarm as to the danger in our midst. Yes, beauty exists in our world, but its capture is subject to increasing abstraction as the framing of the camera edits out the encroaching clutter of contemporary life. Selective framing subtly reduces human presence in an effort to capture this unspoiled state.
Immaterial 2000 – 2002
“To show things for what they are and what else they are.” Minor White
Taking domestic subject matter out of scale and allying it to formal concerns I began to approach that which I sought for - the dissolution of matter. Realising a more refined essence of expression through the isolation of detail and finding a universal aspect to the works symbolism.
Through the immediate availability of subject matter I was able to bring a great degree of intensity to the study, leading to a gradually reductive process in common with abstraction from the everyday world of appearances.
Works of this nature having been more prevalent in turbulent periods, the elevation of the everyday to a platform of contemplation seemed appropriate as the wider world appeared increasingly devoid of reason.

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Supplemental information

Nicholas Hughes (born Britain 1963) is a London based photographer who works mainly using imagery of the British coastline, Switzerland and Germany.
He has pursued a career as a photographic artist since obtaining a first class Bachelor of Arts degree in 1998 followed by a Master’s Degree from the London College of printing in 2002.
His work examines the space between the world that people inhabit and that which nature still claims as its own and in this intermediary space he seeks to explore the essence of the human spirit and its relationship with nature. His work is held in photographic collections world-wide.
Solo exhibitions
2007 "In Darkness Visible Verses I & II", The Photographers’ Gallery, London (Featured Artist)
2003 "Immaterial", Gallery 1885, London
2003 "Platform for art", London Underground
2001 "Secondary Visions", Karoo Gallery, London
2002 "Celestial Visitations", Gallery 1885, London
Group exhibitions
2007 "In Darkness Visible Verse I", Paris Photo, Le Carrousel Du Louvre
2007 "Lightworks", Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin (Curated by Eilis Lavelle)
2006 "Passages of Time – Light, Form and Reflection", Houston Fotofest, USA (Curated by Wendy Waitriss)
2005-2006 "Edge Verse II", Photographers Gallery, London
2005 Paris Photo, Le Carrousel Du Louvre, Paris
2005 "Landscape Views & Visions", the 5th International Photo Festival, Gana Art Centre, Seoul, Korea
2004 "Summer Show", Photographers Gallery Print Room, London
2003-2004 Jerwood Commission / Wapping project - London, Leeds Design Museum, the Jerwood Space, London
2003 "Souvenir", Transition, London
2003 Association of Photographers - Open, London
2003 Fresh Art, London
2003 "Sense and Sensibility", Transition, London
2003 "Attentive", Lounge, London
2002 "Take", Back Hill Gallery, London
2002 "Interim", Mirror Gallery, London
2000 "Tower Block Rock", Conningsby Gallery, London
2000 "View From The City", Royal Mint, London
1999 "Into The Light", SE1 Gallery, London
1998 Suzanne Ruggles Gallery, London
1998 "Earthworks", Chelsea Rooftop Gallery, London
1998 Rebecca Hossock Gallery, Degree Show, London
1998 Student Portrait photographer awards, N.E.C. Birmingham (Winner)
1997 Counter Image group show, Manchester 1997  
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